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21st Century Work Life and leading remote teams

Brought to you by Virtual not Distant, the 21st Century Work Life podcast looks at leading remote teams, online collaboration and working in distributed organisations.

Join Pilar Orti, guests & co-hosts as they shine the spotlight on the most relevant themes and news relevant to the modern knowledge worker.

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May 26, 2016

In this episode, Pilar talks to Julian Wilson, CEO of Matt Black Systems, about how the company made the transition to self-management. The journey was worth it, but also a bit painful... 1hr 07 mins - long, but worth the listen.

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A brief one, seriously!

Pilar recommends some books and podcasts, and you can find the links below...

If you would like to find out more about the Buurtzorg model, why not check out these slides.

If you're making the transition to virtual, check out our new webinar:


Today's episode, as always, is sponsored by Saros Research. If you're based in the UK, how about giving your opinions and getting paid for it?

Click here and swiftly register:


The Conversation with Julian Wilson, from Matt Black Systems

08:10mins As "Management" has been given a bad name by the terrible (but very visible) bad managers out there, companies and people are turning to self-management as a way to improve companies and worklife. But should we be pursuing self-management as an end in itself?

In this episode, Pilar talks to Julian Wilson, CEO of Matt Black Systems, (a design and manufacturing company in the aerospace sector) who, in the journey to improve the company, ended up with a self-managed business. Yes, if this is the right structure for your company, this system will bring all kinds of tangible and intangible joys, but we prepared for some pain along the way...

It's 2003 and the company is in trouble...

"We measured the machines and the processes but we didn't measure the people."

Lean manufacturing didn't quite work. The problem didn't lie with the tool, but with the culture.

How do you change the culture? Micromanaging didn't work, standardising operation procedures didn't work.

Julian gives us a specific example of how they made savings in Purchasing.

How the company cut down on administrative staff.

Should you give admin tasks to people who don't like doing them, so that they get done faster?!

"I wouldn't do it like this again."

Changing culture is difficult; you're changing habits.

Why are we not trusted at work to do things and make decisions like those we take in our personal lives?

When you trust people and de-centralise, you will come up across some problems.

Recruitment - who stays, who goes and who is recruited?

Do businesses need to grow?

Julian is setting up a new organisation, based on the Buurtzorg model.


Further reading and listening:
How to Become a Soulful Organisation - RSA
Global Business podcast: Companies Without Managers
The Story Behind Morning Star's Success